Not Just Another Baseball Novel, and Not Just Another Sports Writer


I’ve read Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel, about a ragtag baseball team during wartime. I’ve read fiction about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. I’ve read novels with a supernatural element.

What I haven’t read is a novel like Matt Caldwell’s The Lost Tribe, which combines the themes above with a few more subplots thrown in so that the author can flex his creative muscles. I’d hate to try to put it all together. Thus I’m impressed that Caldwell was able to do so.

This is a fine and well-crafted work of fiction.

I’ve been trying to liken the hero, Harry Pike, to another character. He’s sort of Indiana Jones in the guise of a Jewish sportswriter.


By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

There were times when I had questions. For instance, when Harry speculated that the Shepherds’ woman pitcher, Jane Holliday, may have had a ninety miles-per-hour fastball, I wondered if that would even have been a metaphor used in the late thirties, but it’s a nitpicky point for the anal-retentive. I wondered if, a few years later, she might have been a star in the women’s baseball league of A League of Their Own.

Ninety miles an hour? There’s no speed limit in baseball.

Man, do I digress.

Not only is Harry a sports writer. (Check.) He’s a zamler, which means a luck pusher, which is where The Lost Tribe wanders into the realm of the supernatural. It’s a gift that must be used wisely, one that should not be called in like a southpaw from the bullpen.

It’s tempting, though, what with ruthless, brutal Nazis lingering about, calling in almost every conceivable dirty trick to enable them to best the yanks, who boast a roster including blacks, a Jew, a handicapped outfielder, and, yes, a woman with big-time heater.

The Germans can hate and intimidate, but they cannot push their luck.

The plot wanders off deftly to a Great War battlefield, a father-and-son reunion, a brave little boy who escapes the reich, a shamed big leaguer, and assorted treachery in unexpected places. It traverses land, sea, and continents.

Harry is truly the hero. He comes across unexpected money with a righteous condition and uses it to rescue Jews, defeat Germany (on the baseball diamond and elsewhere), save a friend and even keep the doors of his newspaper open. He inhabits our psyche somewhere between the Scarlet Pimpernel and Batman, with a bit of Merlin the Magician thrown in for good measure.

I love baseball, as, obviously, does the author, and the game is something of a metaphor symbolizing the better angels of our nature.

Imagine Bruce Wayne as the wisecracking scribe with a heart of gold.

It’s a captivating yarn.



What happens when a man comes apart? (Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
What happens when a man comes apart?
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Read more about The Lost Tribe here:


My own new work of fiction is available here. I recommend Matt’s novel only slightly less than mine, Crazy of Natural Causes, but it carries with it a potential for financial gain:



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